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December 21, 2014

Life on Mars: Episode 3

by Martin Conaghan, posted Mar 12th 2007 5:41PM
Life on Mars(S02E03) The most recent episode of Life on Mars was delayed here in the UK (unless you cheated and watched it on the digital channel BBC FOUR), mostly because of the FA Cup soccer, but it was worth waiting on, even if it did bump right up against the next episode which airs this week.

One thing is certain with this series, there's a theme developing, and I don't mean the mystery surrounding Sam's presence in the past or his so-called 'mission'.

Warning: spoilers after the jump.
The theme, to me at least, is the social problems and climate of the 1970s, which was so unselfconsciously portrayed on television 30 years ago and now seems not just embarrassing in terms of its kitch approach to style and substance, but shameful in the treatment of minority groups and social issues.

In this series so far, we've already had sexism, racism and police brutality -- and this week, it was the turn of the strong anti-Irish sentiment which festered decades ago in the UK and has only really started dissipating in recent years.

The show opened with an IRA bomb threat outside a school in Manchester, which Sam was reluctant to accept due to a lack of modus operandi -- which almost cost one of his colleagues their life when the bomb actually went off.

Of course, this set off DCI Gene Hunt on a Paddy Whack to locate the culprits by rounding up some local Irish immigrant construction workers and beating on them for confessions.

If you've ever watched Neil Jordan's In the Name of the Father, you'll get the idea. However, The Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four this was not. It was much simpler than that, and the show came up trumps again with a topographic perspective on the terrible crimes committed by the police against young Irishmen in the 1960s and 70s when the IRA's mainland campaign hit the UK.

We also had our usual smattering of Sam's auditory and visual hallucinations from the future, but the bigger mystery has been taking a bit of a backseat to the over-riding plots in these opening episodes -- although, I would expect the mystery to start opening up in the next episode, before we hit the run-in.

I'm intentionally not giving you a breakdown of the plot conclusion in this week's episode, mainly because it's one you really have to see to understand the outcome, but, like every single episode which has preceded it -- including the first series -- it's brilliant, and something you should only miss if you're dead, or in jail.

And, as The Simpsons has taught us -- if you're in jail; break out.

Music in this week's episode: David Cassidy, Audience, The Sweet, Lindisfarne and Barclay James Harvest.

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Martin Conaghan

The reason I call it soccer is because the majority of the readers on this website are in the USA, and "football" means something entirely different to them.

I'm from Glasgow 'mate', I know the difference between "soccer" and football.

March 13 2007 at 9:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rjb13

"FA Cup soccer" It's called FOOTBALL by the way mate, not soccer.

I love this show shame there not going to be a 3rd series.

March 13 2007 at 8:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Akbar Fazil

I wouldn't say the main mystery has taken a back burner at all. The phone call at the end of the first two episodes alone was to drive that part of the plot forward.

March 12 2007 at 6:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
honey

This is the best show that I've ever watched in my life. And it's taken me a while to actually admit that, because it's a big deal to me (as a fellow crazy tv watcher). The writing of Life on Mars continues to be tight and gripping, the acting is nothing short of phenomenal, and I pray to the gods above that Americans don't blunder the remake of this show when they bring it over. (As an American, I'm not going to hold my breath.) The back and forth between Hunt and Tyler delivers some of the best, tension-filled dialogue, and I'm always left guessing where the next turn will take these two coppers. Aside from the wonderfully placed glimpses of Sam's reality?/future?/delusion?, this show provides a grit and intensity unmatched in any other television show out there right now-and there are a decent amount of great tv programs on at the moment (House, Heroes, CSI, Doctor Who, Spooks, 24 etc...). John Simm is a powerhouse (as is his fantastic costar Philip Glenister.) I dread the day (not too far in the future) this series comes to an end. Argh.

March 12 2007 at 6:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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